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Obama Staff Report Reveals No Inappropriate Communication With Blagojevich

President-elect Barack Obama released a report Tuesday showing no inappropriate communications between members of his staff and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is accused to trying to sell Obama's vacant Senate seat. NewsHour correspondent Elizabeth Brackett provides an update.

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    Now, the report on the presidential transition team's contacts with Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich about filling the vacant Obama Senate seat.

    Late this afternoon, the president-elect's staff released a five-page report that said there was, quote, "no indication of inappropriate discussions with the governor or anyone from his office about a deal or a quid pro quo arrangement in return for any specific appointment to fill the vacancy."

    The report said that incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel had one or two conversations with Blagojevich and another four or so with his former chief of staff, John Harris. They were described as having spoken about who might fill the seat, but making no mention of any personal benefits for the governor.

    The report's release was delayed for a week at the request of Patrick Fitzgerald, the United States attorney in Illinois who brought corruption charges against Blagojevich.

    Well, here to tell us more is NewsHour correspondent Elizabeth Brackett of public TV's WTTW in Chicago.

    Elizabeth, first of all, I guess one piece of news that jumps out here is that U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald did sit down — his investigators sat down and interviewed the president-elect and Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett last week.

    ELIZABETH BRACKETT, NewsHour correspondent: That was, I think, the surprising news of the report, Judy. I mean, we now know why the report was delayed. They said they'd had it done by December 15th, and they kept saying but they couldn't release it until today.

    It apparently was because they wanted to go ahead and conduct those interviews with President-elect Obama and with Valerie Jarrett and with Rahm Emanuel, all of whom did bring their own attorneys to those interviews. And we don't know for sure whether or not they listened to the tapes in those interviews. I would imagine they probably did. But that was a surprise.